Download This Lesson: Ant Antics
Brief Description: Students will use the Scientific Method to examine alternative pest control methods. They will test the effect of organic controls on ants versus chemicals.
Focus Areas: Pest Control Methods – Organic; Science
Focus Skills: Applying the Scientific Method to determine the effectiveness of three organic controls on ants
Level of Involvement: MAXIMUM
To determine the effectiveness of three organic controls on ant behavior
Which organic controls tested deter ants?
Chemical controls are not the only way to manage pests.
Ants are social insects that live in colonies and display the behavioral characteristics associated with insects of this type. They communicate directly by touching various segments of their antennae together and indirectly by releasing chemicals onto the surfaces on which they walk. This effective communication is responsible for the busy ant trails easily observed in outdoor areas. Food and water are of prime importance to ants. Food is carried to nests and the diet is varied. In dry areas, ants may dig deep burrows for moisture, but too much moisture will send them scurrying about carrying their eggs to drier ground. Ants may relocate several times a year to maintain an acceptable environment. Inadequate food or water, as well as excess water,may cause ant infestations of buildings and therefore require control measures.
Ants are not always pests. They can be predators of other insects, which is a beneficial trait. Ants are considered pests when they invade buildings, for example, such as carpenter ants that build nests out of wooden structures or other ant species that feed on food residues in kitchens. Ants are not considered pests if they make a few anthills in the backyard, however, and can be left alone if they are not causing damage. Read the fact sheet on pavement ants.
exoskeleton – hard outer skeletal material that protects an insect’s soft body parts and provides support
insecticide – a chemical used to repel or reduce insect populations
organic control – a natural substance, as compared to a synthetic chemical
segmented – divided into parts
social insects – insects that live in groups and cooperate in almost every aspect of their lives
Challenge: Discover an organic substance that repels ants
Time: 45 minutes plus time to collect ants (See Preparations)
Group size: up to 25
Space: room with desks, tables or counters
glass jars – three per group and one for control
ants – five to seven per jar
bread crumbs or cereal flakes
Worksheets 1A and 1B, “Lab Reports” *
Worksheet 2 “Bio Sketch Form” *
Fact Sheet Pavement Ant *
Article “Beneficial Creatures” *
Assessment for a Lab Report *
Assessment for an Expository Piece *
* single copy provided
Prepare copies of Worksheets 1A and 1B, one per participant.
Prepare observation jars; 3 treatments and 1 control per group.
Fill jars 1/4 full with soil; cover with cheesecloth held taut with a rubber band.
Collect ants and bring them to the activity for use by the group.
To collect ants: locate an ant colony. Gently dig up the earth around the colony and allow several ants to crawl into each uncapped jar. Cap jars. Note location for ant release after the experiment. A nature guide can be used to identify the ants collected.
ELA = English Language Arts, HE/PE = Health Education and Physical Education, MA = Mathematics, SCI = Science, SS = Social Studies, VPA = Visual and Performing Arts
** Alignment possible only if lesson extension is done
Maine Learning Results
Common Core Standards for English and Mathematics
ELA – C. Research
C1. Students propose and revise research questions, collect information from a wide variety of primary and/or secondary sources, follow the conventions of documentation to communicate findings.
a. Determine the nature and extent of information needed.
b. Locate and access relevant information.
g. Summarize and interpret information presented in varied sources, and/or from field work, experiments, and interviews.
SCI – B. Skills & Traits of Scientific Inquiry
B1. Students plan, conduct, analyze data from, and communicate results of investigations, including simple experiments.
b. Design and safely conduct scientific investigations including experiments with controlled variables.
c. Use appropriate tools, metric units, and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
e. Use logic, critical reasoning and evidence to develop descriptions, explanations, predictions and models.
ELA – Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects 6-12
2. Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
b. Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.